Yesterday I Sent My “Kid” to Prom

You know how in law contracts they always designate 1 word for the names of the parties involved? For instance, “Client” instead of Sally B. Smith.

In the spirit of that, by “kid” I refer to my newly completed first novel.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the correlation of raising a kid to an Author releasing their first book.

I’m feeling like that anxious parent today. The one who stayed up all night. The one who spent most of the night biting my nails and praying that my “child” didn’t end up drunk and knocked up in the back of a limo in some grocery store parking lot somewhere last night.

They grow up so fast don’t they? Graduation is just a breath away and it’s a little melancholy.

After all, I raised her since birth. I developed her, molded her and shaped her into something special and unique. And now that she’s out there in the world on her own for the first time, I’m feeling a little lost without her.

I can’t even think about when she gets married and moves out on her own.

Based on what I’ve heard, most authors will understand exactly what I mean. Hopefully, if we’re decent at our jobs, we’ll finish it in far less time than 18 years.

But regardless of how swiftly or slowly we let her go the fact remains – there are distinct parenting stages with our manuscripts.

Planning Stage through Birth
Everyone loves this part. We get the “nursery” ready and start picking out cute little outfits. We make sure to eat right and get plenty of rest.

Our offices are fresh and new. We’ve dusted off the desktop and armed ourselves with a brand new journal to take notes on all the most important developments along the way. The ones that take our breath away when we realize we made something out of nothing.

Every day is a brand new delight and surprise!

Somewhere around the middle of the first draft we start thinking about ways to leave our bratty little book with a babysitter and run, screaming, in the opposite direction.

Everything from character to storyline seems to suck. We stopped sleeping, we do nothing but yell ‘no!’ at the top of our lungs all the time. We’re flat out exhausted. We hate our book. It isn’t even a book, the things we brought to life couldn’t possibly be real.

We wonder if the thing came from the depths of hell.

That evil something runs around screaming, jumping off of furniture, hiding from us behind large trees. That evil something takes off its diaper and poops right in the middle of chapter fifteen. That evil something expects that we’ll figure out a way to get rid of the mess.

We just hope it doesn’t get worse.

I need a beer.

Though still slightly ornery, we manage to pull it together and start running a somewhat tighter ship. Nothing swings from the ceiling fans and we’re feeling pretty good about getting it together.

Then, as if overnight, all the manuscript wants to do is sulk in its darkened drawer for the next year…should I be worried?

Oh yea. Here comes the fun. Note the sarcasm?

Coming out of their room for nothing more than food and friends, we see a new tattoo and jet black hair. It’s time to completely remold her into something that only slightly resembles her original self.

Welcome to editing.

Some writers do this as they go along. I personally like to write it all first then go back to shape it into something more realistic later. Some might call me masochistic but if I have to live through the teen years of my book, at least I’ll get them all out of the way at once.

Sleeping, showering, and leaving the house are optional at this point. I obsess over making sure she’s perfect. I get rid of the Mohawk that showed up in chapter twenty-five and the co-dependent, money-sucking boyfriend who arrived in chapter forty-seven.

Because they add nothing to the story.

But she keeps telling me she’s perfect and to “get off her back so she can live her own life.”

I need a six pack.

Prom and Graduation
Then that moment arrives and it’s filled with mixed emotions. She’s ready to step out on the town. This is the part where we stop writing another word, let it go, and send it off for Copyright registration.

We have to admit she’s done.

All we can do is hope her college essay is strong enough to get her into Harvard.

But as parents of a first child we’re also realists. Some backup colleges might not be a bad idea. We don’t care, just so long as the Registration Certificate, arrives in the mail we’re going to be ecstatic.

Early Twenties
Suddenly we realize - the thing is finished! On her own for the first time.

Time to party bitches!

For the first time in years our writer’s brains can all but turn off and stop collecting information vital to our story.

For the first time in years we can do laundry, sleep, exercise off the 25+ extra pounds that showed up.

That amazing book is out there paying her rent and partying with cute boys and we’re finally empty nesters. Time for us to do the same!

She’s Engaged
The certificate comes back and its official. All we need to do now is decide how to get her out into the world.

We scoured the different options years ago. Finally we’re ready for release day.

New Life On Her Own
We’ll always be there to lift her up, promote her to the world, tell people how freaking awesome she is, but in essence she has her own path to take now; her own life to go out there and live.

The great news is that now we’re truly empty nesters. We get the time now to do book signings, interviews, articles, blog posts, and media blitzes.

This is our proud parent moment where we get to talk about her with everyone and tell them how great her career is going, how happy we are for her and how exciting it was to have raised such a wonderful kid.

We boast, cheer, cry and high-five perfect strangers. We have raised a gem. We rule!

And then, forgetting all about those early years of misery and frustration, we think to ourselves “I think I want another…”

But first, I need a nap.

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